With 61,93,72 YouTube views and counting, A R Rahman’s ‘Nenjukulle’ for Mani Ratnam’s Kadal is making waves. Understandably, so is the girl who sang the song - Shakthisree Gopalan. Having just sung the title track of Shah Rukh Khan starrer — Jab Tak Hai Jaan, alongside Javed Ali, her career graph is soaring at the moment. With a barrage of praise flowing in on social networking sites, the singer admits that all this has left her “overwhelmed”. The 24-year-old says, “I knew the song was brilliant from the first time I heard.” She adds quickly, “But I had no idea that it was going to get this big!”
Add to that an anonymous fan on Facebook who has set up an elaborate fan page for her and a fictitious story about her and a lovestruck fan, on a blog. She still has her feet firmly placed on the ground though — Just to say thank you to all her friends and fans who voted, she stayed up all night to respond to every single post or comment that came her way. “If somebody is taking five minutes of their lives to appreciate my song, that was the least I could do,” she smiles.
It was only four years ago that she was introduced to her idol, A R Rahman. This was shortly after winning a television-based voice hunt conducted across the South that year. “One of the judges, Suresh Peters took me to his studio to meet him,” she recalls. “He was really nice. I remember one of the first things he asked was: ‘Pallakad ah?’” she laughs. But the more interesting part is yet to come. “I didn’t hear anything from the studio after that,” admits Shakthi.
Much later, the singer found herself in AM studios to record for a Tamil movie with a newcomer director. She remembers, “I was standing outside the studio and practising my portion when ARR Sir walked past me.” The singer goes on, “A little later, somebody came up to me and said: ‘Sir is asking for your number.’” A month later, she got a call to do the backing vocals for Ghajini. Shakthi confesses, “The thing is I was so excited that day, I gave them the wrong number!”
Since then, it’s been mostly backing vocals and the occasional Tamil film song – in movies like Taxi 4777, Rajadhi Raja and Vettaikaaran. This has been alongside her eclectic western music outfits, ranging from rock to jazz and easy melodies to unwind to. At the moment, the songstress who is an architect by day is composing a new single of her own that is set to release online shortly. Just how soon are we talking about? “In a week, hopefully,” she responds casually
“For now I just want to focus on my music and my architecture,” she states. “Every time I need to go to the studio and record, I just know. It’s a feeling - like when you know you have to take a vacation,” she adds with a laugh. From the sudden mass craze for Nenjukulle, it looks like there’s going to be a whole lot of vacations to come.